Winning at SkillsUSA was something that I can, still, only describe as euphoric.
The way my heart pounded in my chest as I stepped up onto the stage with my partner, how my knees practically gave out as I looked out at the crowd… The feelings are still clear in my memories. To be able to stand up in front of over two thousand people was surreal, to have someone place a medal around your neck, the cheering of the crowd… All cheering for us, the champions. It was my moment of fame, a transient moment, but a moment all the same. I had exceeded my own personal expectations, I placed in third, and an intense happiness spread throughout me, smiling, nearly crying with joy. I did it!
In my mind, I may as well have been at the Olympic Games, accepting a gold medal for some miraculous feat. In reality, however, I won a bronze medal for designing a promotional bulletin board based on the theme, “Skilled and Motivated.” After months of planning, and days of losing sleep and classes to complete my design, I had nearly reached the finish line. With quivering legs, I charged on through the last stretch of the race. I got up from my seat in the conference hall and I went up to the stage. Though a couple of competitors beat me there, I finally crossed the finish. It was over. I really did do it!
Though many people probably think that a bronze medal is no big deal, I find it to be a very big accomplishment. I believe that I never would have finished the race, had it not been for my partner, who rooted for me when I got overwhelmed; or for my adviser who supplied me with the necessary tools and believed in me. If not for them, I don’t think I would have even gotten to the competition. Though I wish I could say that I was able achieve the medal on my own, I’d be lying if I did. They were my team, and they believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. The two of them pushed me and cheered me on, and together they helped me tremendously. If I hadn’t worked with such great people, I never would have reached the finish line.
SkillsUSA Massachusetts 2012 was my first time ever competing in such a huge and highly revered competition. It was an incredible experience, and I will surely never forget it. Not only was it my first time competing at Skills, but I participated in a design competition as a business student. It’s rare that you see a student competing out of their trade area at SkillsUSA, and in most competitions it isn’t even allowed. My participation was important in itself because I believe that I showed everyone there that you don’t need to study design to be successful in that area. That anyone can do anything as long as they put their minds to it. Determination is the key to success, and through perseverance and support from my team, I proved that.
My whole experience with SkillsUSA, from the very beginning, was a learning experience. It was a time of personal growth. I say this because, as time went on, and I tried harder and harder, I began to believe in myself. Just a little bit at first, but it was a start. It wasn’t until I had finished with everything, after I had received my medal, that I truly felt confident in my work. I actually believed in myself, and I got to thinking about the next year when I would compete again. The same thought has been racing around inside my mind since then: “If I could do it once, why shouldn’t I shoot to do it a second time?”, so that is exactly what I am going to do. I will try to do it a second time.
The time I spent on SkillsUSA in 2012 was life changing. I bettered myself in the process of a competition of all things! No self-help sections of the bookstore, no internet research, just hard work helped me gain confidence. There really is no feeling like your hard work paying off. The sense of accomplishment you feel, how you feel good enough, proud. Nothing can compare to the feeling you get upon completing a race; whether you come in first place or last place, you did it. You crossed the finish line!